I know, I haven’t done a Teaser Tuesday post for a while. I haven’t really had one close enough to ready to go. But, I have gotten Stained Blood back from my critique partner and re-plotted it and have now started writing new scenes for it. So for now, I’ll be sharing from it for the next little while. First, the new opening:
Barrett Kline stared out the window at the now empty ranch yard. The cattle were all gone, either driven to the stock yards or sold to another ranch. Almost all the horses, too. His neighbor, Patrick Bailey had taken the best of them to add to his own remuda.
He’d found buyers for the others, except for the one he had kept for himself. And that was all there was to it. The only thing left was to move on from this. The ranch was sold, pieced off to other ranchers, to homesteaders, to whoever had wanted to purchase the lots.
He smiled a little. Offering parcels to homesteaders had been a bit of poetic justice to his mind. Since it had been what had brought everything crashing down for his family. He’d felt those just trying to make their own from the land deserved it the most after what his brother had done.
He’d thought getting rid of the ranch would be easy. Hadn’t expected that there would be some things he’d miss about it.
Barrett turned to face the woman in the doorway. “Lizbeth,” he greeted the maid. “I thought I gave all the servants the day off. I don’t know what the man who bought the ranch will do, but there’s nothing for you here right now.”
Her face fell. He wasn’t sure if it was because he referred to her as a servant—she’d been a lot more than that to him a few times. Or if it was another reminder that he was leaving this place. Lord, he really didn’t want to do this again.
“You’re still here,” she said softly.
So, they were going to do this again. As much as he didn’t want to. “I won’t be for long,” he said. “You knew this was coming. I explained months ago I couldn’t stay here any longer.”
“I still hoped you would change your mind.”
He shook his head. “I can’t do it, Lizbeth. I will drown here, and I may very well take you with me.”
She looked at him, confused. “There is little water around here. Not unless you go all the way out to the stream. I can give you reason to stay close to the house,” she said, giving him a saucy smile.
Barrett couldn’t help but smile back at her and her vixen act. He could see to the fear under it, to the lonely girl she’d been without parents when she’d first come to work for them. The one afraid yet one more person would leave her. Just like she’d always been able to see under his own mask. But, that wasn’t what he needed right now. He just needed to be gone. And Lizbeth couldn’t help him with that.
“As tempting as that sounds,” he said, making sure his voice and smile stayed soft— he didn’t want to hurt her— as he moved around her, “I can’t stay, Lizbeth. I’ll be staying in town for a little while. At least through Leah’s wedding. You can find me there if you wish.”
Her lips turned down into a pout. At one time he’d loved to kiss that look off her, but he just couldn’t bring himself to now. He left the study and headed for the front door. Like the rest of the servants, he’d given the stable boy the day off. Days off, really, until the new owner showed up. So, he’d have to saddle his own horse. He’d already sent most of his things ahead to the hotel. Mostly just his clothes and books. He had his favored pack of cards in this saddlebags.
He didn’t see what else he could need.
I don’t currently have a release date. I still have to finish rewrites and send it through betas. But, I’m hoping for late spring/early summer.